Carotid endarterectomy

Carotid endarterectomy is a specialist procedure to unblock the carotid artery, which is the main blood vessel supplying the head and neck.

It is carried out when fatty deposits, known as plaque, build up in the patient’s carotid arteries, causing them to narrow. This is known as carotid artery disease or carotid artery stenosis and, left untreated, can affect the blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA).

Our neurosurgery team may recommend carotid endarterectomy to significantly reduce the risk of stroke in people with severely narrowed carotid arteries. You may also be referred for the procedure if you have already a stroke or TIA, as it will reduce your risk of having another by one third.

Carotid endarterectomy can be carried out under general anaesthetic, but is usually completed under local anaesthetic so that we can monitor the way your brain responds to the changes in blood flow during surgery. During the procedure, your neurosurgeon will make a seven to 10cm long incision between your jaw and your breastbone before making a further incision in the artery and removing the fatty deposits. Both incisions are then sealed with stitches.

After your operation, you will be transferred to the recovery area where you will be monitored closely by staff, and will usually be discharged around 48 hours later. A follow up appointment will be arranged a few weeks later in our outpatient clinic so that your neurosurgeon can check on your recovery.

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